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August 19, 2005
Another AP Smear On Roberts

The AP attempts to assist the Left in their next big smear against John Roberts as a male chauvinist pig. It started this morning with the Washington Post's ridiculous "analysis" of Roberts' record of commentary on comparable worth, a long-discredited line of thought that the Post misrepresented as "a curb on workplace discrimination against women" when in fact it does nothing to change hiring practices, but instead puts government in charge of setting wages. Now Hope Yen has found another snippet out of a Roberts memo that they will claim attacks Sandra Day O'Connor, who Democratic Senators recently discovered as an unrecognized saint of modern jurisprudence:

As a lawyer in the Reagan White House, John Roberts scoffed at the notion of elevating Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to chief justice as a way to close a political gender gap, calling it a "crass political consideration." ...

"Many of the documents made it clear that as a junior official in the Reagan administration, he was part of an intense effort to impede progress on numerous key issues, such as progress on equal rights for women," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., a member of the Judiciary Committee that will consider Roberts' nomination.

Added Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.: "The question before the Senate is whether this is the person who should replace the first female justice of the Supreme Court."

The AP supplies the needed context later in the article. John Sheehan had suggested to Ronald Reagan that he start packing the Supreme Court with women as a way to close the "gender gap" for the 1984 election. The plan, which sounds more than a little far-fetched now, had Reagan giving Chief Justice William Rehnquist an ambasadorial position, nominating another woman to the Supreme Court, and making O'Connor the new Chief Justice.

Bear in mind that Reagan had already broken the gender barrier on the Court, and had received little credit for that among the feminist class. Also consider the likelihood that Rehnquist would give up the lifetime appointment to the Court for at best four years as an ambassador (and just months, if Reagan lost the election). The transparency of such a ridiculous arrangement would readily demonstrate its true purpose, which is why Roberts wrote the following:

"The president would elevate Justice O'Connor two weeks later, and then name yet another woman to succeed O'Connor two weeks after that. Presto! The gender gap vanishes," Roberts wrote.

"Any appointments the president may make to the Supreme Court will not be based on such crass political considerations," Roberts advised in a memo to his boss, Fred Fielding.

The AP fails to make clear in its lead, and especially in its headline ("Roberts Scoffed at Promotion for O'Connor"), that Roberts didn't object to promoting O'Connor, but that he objected to such a clumsy, self-defeating, and ludicrous proposal. In fact, Roberts earlier had worked with O'Connor to prepare her for her confirmation process in the Senate. He gives no indication that he has anything but respect for her and her work.

This article follows the earlier smear attempt by the AP to paint Roberts as a bigot because where he lived as a boy. It shows the depths to which his opposition must plumb in order to gin up any kind of momentum for their ill-chosen attack on his integrity. The AP has made it painfully clear that they have tossed objectivity to the winds regarding Roberts.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 19, 2005 5:17 PM

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